frankfurt

Museum Concert in the Old Opera, Frankfurt

The Old Opera House in Frankfurt is one of the landmark buildings. In 1987 the Opera caught fire and it took 3 years and 200 Million EUR to rebuild it from the ashes of what became the largest such disaster since World War II. The fire was set by a homeless who broke into the building through a side window. Frustrated that he did not find food, he gathered some newspapers and burned down the building. Now, what looks old from outside, is just the plain opposite when you enter. It's more modern than the New Opera of town, with excellent seating and acoustics.

Last Monday, I was in the 4.th Museum Concert directed by Tung-Chieh Chuang with the Frankfurter Opern- und Museumsorchester (Frankfurt Opera and Museum Orchestra) and Kian Soltani cello. It was Georges Bizet Symphony in C Major, Camille Saint-Saëns Cello concerto Nr. 1 in a minor op. 33 and after the break Igor Strawinsky Petruschka (in the 1947 edition). It was nice and I really enjoyed the evening. Such concerts are more "meditative" than opera and a good start into the week.

Snapshot of the interior of the Old Opera House Frankfurt, taken during the break of the 4th Museum Concert.

Snapshot of the interior of the Old Opera House Frankfurt, taken during the break of the 4th Museum Concert.

First paddle tour with Nortik Scubi 1 Kayak

Yes, I am a city dweller in Frankfurt. But the park just beside my habitat is crossed by the Nidda creek, which in its lower part can be easily paddled. So, I got a Nordik Scubi 1 foldable kayak, which design reminds me a bit of the Klepper Aerius, but is much lighter (just 12 kg, as the manufacturer says) and much cheaper. First I was sceptical what this small boat can do for somebody of 1,90 meters height and 84 kg. Today I took it for a first paddle, and it turned out to be the perfect "always in your pocket boat". It took me 30 minutes first assembly, and I found it easy. I am using a 4 piece collapsible paddle of 240 cm, which I was warned could be wobbly, but it's not. And then I got a little trolley from the Chinese man running a shop on Leipzigstrasse and a 22 liter Ortlieb drybag. Pump and drybag fit behind the seat for storage. The trolley can be strapped on top. You can't store anything in the foot room at my body size.

Then off I went. Watch out: the Nidda from Niddapark, has one barrage which requires to take the boat around. Then it is very nice and quiet until before Höchst where the water gets fast two times. But in both cases, follow the current on the deep stretches and all will be fine. I was a bit concerned what will happen when I hit a rock with the light boat. But I did not. Entering the Main river at Höchst, you will pass a few house boats and a floating restaurant. I decided to go upstream until the foot of the Griesheim hydropower plant. There is no strong current, so no problem. Then I turned back, disassembled at Höchst and too the tram way (Line 11) back to Frankfurt. I did not manage to get the pump back into the boat bag in the field, so keep some extra space in your rucksack. Going along the rivers is always a nice and interesting view on city life. And in this case, it does not even feel like a city. The little kayak had a really good start: stable and easy to manoeuver, quick in assembly and collapse, small when packed. I like this boat. 

Only ducks can water ski on the Nidda, I think

Only ducks can water ski on the Nidda, I think

"City life" on the water

"City life" on the water

Watch for this barrage at the lower Nidda. It requires to get out and carry around. At least if you are not into extreme sports (which I am not).

Watch for this barrage at the lower Nidda. It requires to get out and carry around. At least if you are not into extreme sports (which I am not).

Quick look back upstream to confirm that it is better to carry the boat around this barrage. 

Quick look back upstream to confirm that it is better to carry the boat around this barrage. 

Entering Höchst on the Nidda.

Entering Höchst on the Nidda.

Just before entering the Main river from the Nidda.

Just before entering the Main river from the Nidda.

The main river is calm and has not much of a current in this area. 

The main river is calm and has not much of a current in this area. 

A curious co-paddler. 

A curious co-paddler. 

That's my configuration of the build up Scubi 1 ...

That's my configuration of the build up Scubi 1 ...

..., and then it's all packed up again.

..., and then it's all packed up again.

Arthouse Cinema am Roßmarkt

The Arthouse Cinema in Frankfurt is located at Roßmarkt 7 (take subway to Hauptwache). There is another one in Frankfurt Sachsenhausen, but this is a but further for me, and I really like the Roßmarkt Cinema for the venue and the movies they pick. Quite frequently there are also special events in which the director or producer is invited for a question and answer session. I got myself a rebate card, and found it very easy in the last few weeks to break even, because there is so much to see. The list below is just my start. I am not a cinema critic, but I also wrote a few words how I found the films

The lobby of my favorite movie theater in Frankfurt, The  Harmony Arthouse Cinema .

The lobby of my favorite movie theater in Frankfurt, The Harmony Arthouse Cinema.

  1. Das stille Klassenzimmer (The silent classroom): excellent
  2. The Post (Die Verlegerin): kitsch
  3. Die stille Revolution (The silent revolution): too many platitudes, Jannike Stoehr did a great job in her interview
  4. Zwei Herren im Anzug (Two men in a suit): excellent
  5. The Mercy (Vor uns das Meer): trying to make a romantic story of an idiot trying to sail the world
  6. The Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri: excellent, not what I expected
  7. Sami blood (Das Mädchen aus dem Norden): interesting
  8. Drei Tage Quiberon (Three days Quiberon): interesting, but hard to think myself into Romy Schneider's tragedy
  9. Death of Stalin: so bad that I left the cinema half way through
  10. Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire): still very good, digitally remastered, and rare chance to see on big screen
P4150122.JPG

Back to Frankfurt

Arrived in Frankfurt after about 2 weeks in Bonn. I always enjoy being there, first of all I have very good friends in town, and secondly following its former status as a National capital of Western Germany, it still has a very extravagant cultural budget and very good museums. I was fascinated by the exhibition Bestandsaufnahme Gurlitt - der NS Kunstraub und seine Folgen in the Bundeskunsthalle. It is, but not only, what came to light after in 2012 an old man's flat was raided by the police for suspected tax fraud: one of the largest private art collections in Germany, and some of the works subject to the Nazi's confiscations and plain robbing of art works. Now the art and relevant documents are open to public, so that the rightful owners of stolen art works may claim their rights and the art works to be returned. 

Today I explored the German National Library in Frankfurt and found this an excellent place to work. Far better than the Library of Goethe University in Bockenheim, and still easy to reach by bike in less than 15 minutes. I also tried a few coffee places, one of which was the Hoppenworth & Ploch (which was okay, but not great) and Kaffee Rösterei Wissmüller on Leipziger Strasse which may become an alternative "hang out" to Café Laumer. 

Wissmann Coffee. I have no idea, why anybody goes to Starbucks. 

Wissmann Coffee. I have no idea, why anybody goes to Starbucks. 

Goethe University Frankfurt, Bockenheim campus.

Goethe University Frankfurt, Bockenheim campus.

Christmas Eve in Frankfurt

I truly have not seen a major city as empty, as Frankfurt on Christmas Eve. Only a few Chinese were running around looking desperately for luxury shops. The few others were on their way to see their family and loved ones. And there was the atmosphere of preparation for something important to come. I had an extra piece of cake in Café Laumer. Then went to the Museum of Applied Art to see the Jil Sander exhibition, which I liked. Merry Christmas. 

Alte Oper (Old Opera) in Frankfurt. Nobody around.

Alte Oper (Old Opera) in Frankfurt. Nobody around.

Café Laumer, Frankfurt Westend. You can still sit outside. 

Café Laumer, Frankfurt Westend. You can still sit outside. 

Train along the Rhine river: Frankfurt - Bonn - Frankfurt

I often take the train along the Rhine from Frankfurt to Bonn and back. It is not the fastest, but the most beautiful connection. Most people take the fast InterCity Express which goes on a more linear track. They don't have the time I have. My trick is, that I get up at 5 a.m. That's why I have the time. I love that route because it is my home. And I have not been home for a long time. 

Tonight, a man with a large empty suitcase passed by to collect the empty deposit bottles, which he can refund against cash. He was well mannered and polite. When the conductor came and asked for his ticket, the man just continued without response. So, the conductor performed his duty, correctly but he was not doing right. I asked the conductor to take a seat beside me, which he did. Then I requested him to agree that the man got on the train the station before and will get off the next one and that I will pay for his ticket. I also asked him, whether he could turn a blind eye to it if the bottle collector would not get off the next station, but continue to a place of his convenience. We don't want to drop a poor man somewhere on the Rhine river at night, right?  It was very quiet, just between the two of us. The conductor calculated the fare, took out his private wallet and paid for the man's ticket himself. Then he took 50 Euro and put it discreetly into the hand of the stowaway passenger, said "Merry Christmas" and walked on. I continued watching through the window the forest and the river passing by in the dark. And I decided never to complain about the delays of the German Railway anymore. There are great people working in that company. 

These were the trains of the German Railway when I started taking this route. Today already much more modern (Nostalgiekarte, Ansichtskarte Nr. 73)

These were the trains of the German Railway when I started taking this route. Today already much more modern (Nostalgiekarte, Ansichtskarte Nr. 73)

"Mein Viertel" in Frankfurt

"Mein Viertel" means my quarter, and refers to the immediate surroundings of your home in a city. For me, it also refers to where I know the people I meet on the street, where I go to the market, buy groceries and have my post office. It also includes a few broader landmarks which I relate to. Here a few snapshots of my quarter in Frankfurt am Main.

Bockenheimer Depot - Now a Theatre at Bockenheimer Warte, just beside the Goethe University Library.

Bockenheimer Depot - Now a Theatre at Bockenheimer Warte, just beside the Goethe University Library.

A residential road leading to the European Central Bank, close to the Main river.

A residential road leading to the European Central Bank, close to the Main river.

The former watchtower at Bockenheimer Warte.

The former watchtower at Bockenheimer Warte.

Frankfurt Christmas Market 2017

Frankfurt Christmas Market 2017

"The arrival city is a city in the city"

It's Frankfurt am Main. Main is a river, and not a qualifier. It does not mean that this is the "Main Frankfurt" while the other Frankfurt, at the river Oder, is inferior. Sometimes English speakers get confused with that. And then there are many Frankfurts, for example in the United States. But these are not the Frankfurts we talk about, and I don't know anything about them.

But I know Frankfurt am Main, from my time working at Bosch Telecom in Kleyerstrasse. It was the attempt of the Bosch Group to get a foothold in the Telecom Equipment market, at the time telecom services were liberalized in Germany and other European countries. Via various steps, the "TELENORMA - Telephonbau und Normalzeit GmbH" was integrated into the Robert Bosch Group in 1989. It was said to be one of the world's best telecom engineering companies and went back to its foundation as a telegraph manufacturer in 1901. I was working as a management trainee in the early 90s, started in the Security Technology Division and was posted to Paris, where we bought JS Telecom and started a Post-Merger Integration. I personally learned a lot, even though the venture was not very successful. 1999 the public network division was sold to Marcony Company and private networks and devices went to the Private Equity company Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR) for 400 Mio USD, and rebranded TENOVIS. I was already at The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) at that time. But I heard that a headcount cut of globally 40 % and having PE managers bragging that they were just released from jail for insider trading charges, did not go down too well. In 2006 the company was sold to AVAYA, and still, on Kleyer Strasse the office buildings are occupied, while the production facilities have, across the road have been converted. The more famous stories of " Fallen Angels" are companies like Kodak, Nokia, Erickson, Voigtländer, Borgward. But Telephonbau and Normalzeit, might also qualify for that category. Or perhaps it is more the Olivetti of telecommunication. This is how I came to Frankfurt am Main the first time. Now I am back. Times have changed, and I am re-entering the city from a different angle. 

The building of the European Central Bank seen from the Main river side.

The building of the European Central Bank seen from the Main river side.

Frankfurt Bockenheim is a nice and lively place to live. It was Feibai's love for Leipziger Strasse, which made us abandon the further search, and made us convert the short term rental into a longer commitment. It is the University quarter and has a good library, and nice cafés and restaurants. Even though my favorite café is Laumer in Westend. All easy to reach in Frankfurt. First of all the city is flat and the bicycle takes you everywhere conveniently. And secondly, Frankfurt has an excellent and reliable subway. This is another change to 25 years ago: the subway is actually clean and safe. Even the Frankfurt Main train station, is not a drug den anymore, but a well-organized facility, from which you can reach the surrounding countryside easily for a hike in the Taunus or Rheingau, and go further for example along the Middle Rhine Valley, which became UNESCO Cultural World Heritage. The airport, which's expansions have been debated and even the source of violent protests some years ago, is also convenient when it comes to being connected. But of course, in the South of the city and in the major operational landing and take off corridors this causes quite some noise. Not so, in Bockenheim.

Exhibition in the Frankfurt Architecture Museum.

Exhibition in the Frankfurt Architecture Museum.

German style organised at the Main river promenade, to support a classical concert.

German style organised at the Main river promenade, to support a classical concert.

For example, the Rheingau wine area, but also many other countryside beauty-spots, are easy to reach from Frankfurt by local train. Grapes as seen on August 20th. It seems to me that the potential harvest has recovered from early blossum and late frost we had earlier this year.

For example, the Rheingau wine area, but also many other countryside beauty-spots, are easy to reach from Frankfurt by local train. Grapes as seen on August 20th. It seems to me that the potential harvest has recovered from early blossum and late frost we had earlier this year.

Die Becher-Klasse (The Becher Class)

The first class of photography of Bernd and Hilla Becher defined photography as a form of art. Without it, today there would be literally no photography in a fine art museum. It was the foundation of the Düsseldorfer Schule (Duesseldorf School). The class was composed by Volker Döhne, Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Axel Hütte, Tata Ronkholz, Thomas Ruff, Jörg Sasse, Thomas Struth and Petra Wunderlich. A selection of their work is exhibited in the Städel Museum in Frankfurt Main under the title: Fotografien werden Bilder (Photographies become pictures). The exhibition is on until August 13th. I really liked it and I spent three hours there, taking a lot of ideas with me - some of them related to photography, and others on how such a class brought it into not just mastering, but shaping a new dimension in arts. 

Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main

Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main

Germany rediscovered

We once were thinking that summer in Stockholm and winter in Malta would be a nice annual migration scheme. But for now it turned out to be summer in Germany and winter in Malta. To be more precise: from Frankfurt up to the Westerwald and The Three Cities. Malta is a good place to be, when you need no input. For example if you feel like going into a cave to "write things up", then you will find with the Maltese National Library a much better version of that. And if it really has to be a cave, then also many of these are available. In Germany though - very much in contrast to the platitude - there is culture, innovation, vibrancy and (now listen!) even humour. You can get a lot of input, have interesting conversations, and meet quite outstanding people. If you are German, and like me, sometimes wonder why foreigners use the term "German efficiency", then a trip to Malta will help you understand and appreciate it. We like the mix of both. And last but not least the deep forest on the one hand and the turquoise Mediterranean sea on the other, make a good annual balance.

View from Grosser Feldberg into the Taunus.

View from Grosser Feldberg into the Taunus.

Sascha Weidner - Was übrig bleibt (What remains)

Sascha passed away on the 9th of April, 2015, aged 40. We last met a year earlier to his final day in Beijing, during his residency in the Three Shadows in Chaochangdi. The Fotografie Forum Frankfurt shows some of what remains: his photos. The exhibition will be still on until January 29th. As Sascha has put it before: "The perfect moment has to vanish. Otherwise we would just stay". Sascha was a romantic traveller with a camera.

1001 photos by Sascha Weidner.

1001 photos by Sascha Weidner.

Städel Museum Frankfurt

The Städel Museum is one in a row of museums on the Southern bank of the river Main in Frankfurt. But it is for sure the most outstanding one, and among the top arts museums in Germany. We took the chance for a visit on a still relatively sunny day, having also our "annual sandwich lunch at the river" this time at the Main. This comes in the row of Northern Canal in Beijing, Trent, again Northern Canal in Beijing, and the river Lahn. The museum really has an impressive collection. And also the attached book shop is of a quality which most of today's museum bookshops don't reach. Only little disappointment was, that Vermeer's Geographer has been lent to a partner museum in Russia until next year. Another good reason to come back.

"The Geographer" (1669) by Johannes Vermeer (copyright: public domain)

"The Geographer" (1669) by Johannes Vermeer (copyright: public domain)

Fiona Tan's "Geography of Time" (Geographie der Zeit)

"Geography of Time" was a solo exhibition which made me want to visit the Frankfurt Museum of Modern Art (Museum Moderne Kunst). Fiona Tan was born in Pekanbaru (Indonesia) and lives and works in Amsterdam and Los Angeles. I liked her installations and videos around the topics time, memory and identity. Still somehow my morphology of time is different, and found it hard to connect. Also I strolled through the rest of the museum, which is a quite concise one. Liked some of the photography work shown, but most other things I do not fancy too much.

Fiona Tan's solo exhibition "Geography of Time" (Geographie der Zeit) can be seen in the Frankfurt Museum of Modern Art (MMK) until 18th of January 2017.

Fiona Tan's solo exhibition "Geography of Time" (Geographie der Zeit) can be seen in the Frankfurt Museum of Modern Art (MMK) until 18th of January 2017.